January 3, 2008 lia

Since when is Jo’burg 6500 km from Cape Town?

Two 20-somethings take a spontaneous road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town and end up clocking 6500 km — that’s about 80% the length of Africa. Along the journey we saw a dozen 4X4s stuck on the side of the road with flat tires while somehow our little VW Polo held together. Here are some highlights…

-Victoria Falls — an absolutely mind-blowing site, impressing me the likes of Machu Picchu
-Fish River Canyon, Namibia — despite the un-imposing name, it’s a stunning canyon, apparently second only to the Grand Canyon in stature
-Highway wildlife in Botswana — we saw more wildlife along the highway than we did in the National Parks, and it was so refreshing to know that elephants, giraffs, zebras, and lions exist not only in National Parks, but still roam Africa’s vast landscapes
-Cape Town — along with the entire Western Cape, will never fail to inspire me
-People of Zimbabwe — the glimpses of Zimbabwe we saw through our trip and conversations with emigrants in Botswana have stirred in me an absolute fascination in the country and its people
-Quirky accommodation across the region — we stayed at everything across the board, and half the fun is chatting with the characters who run the B&B’s, camp grounds, backpackers, huts, resorts, and even a camp for orphans!
-Namib dunes — of course…
-Widely varying landscapes and people — we had such a variation of landscapes to cross, and colourful personalities from across the region’s social spectrum
-Leanne & Guillaume’s wedding — at Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, an event that brought people together from literally every corner of the world
-Reuniting with old friends as if no time has passed…

-Forgetting my phone at the hotel just 15 km away — but still in another country!
-Witnessing the circle of life — such as a rotting elephant on the side of the highway and dozens of vultures capitalising on donkeys’ roadside misfortunes
-Driving 6100 km of a 6500 km roadtrip — though teaching Sara how to drive standard on the left side of the road and the right side of the car was quite a highlight — go girl!
-Botswana’s landscape is really quite boring to drive across, but the coolness of the people makes up for it

We made some amendments to our list of acquired skills along the journey:
-Charming border guards out of paying heavy registration fees to enter their country
-Disinfecting our car and ourselves at dozens of Foot and Mouth disease checkpoints across Botswana
-Avoiding men in military gear carrying riffles, mysteriously exiting and entering the un-fenced National Parks in Zimbabwe
-Off-roading our little VW Polo like a Land Cruiser, and still being the only car in Namibia that didn’t get a flat
-Recovering bank cards eaten up by ATMs across Botswana
-Exporting South Africa’s extremely polite highway driving to Botswana
-Name that road kill — we have identified an elephant, donkeys (although it was difficult to identify underneath a dozen vultures), eagles, something that looked like a baby gorilla, and then the usual dogs and cats
-Dodging livestock -and- elephants — we also shared the road with a giraffe, zebras, dozens of baboons, and other exotic mammals
-BYO-Hotel — sleeping in the car when we can’t find reasonably priced accommodation, and drying our clothes in the car while on the road
-Capitalising on any opportunity for make-shift workouts
-Decorating Marco’s windshield (our car) with colourful insects
-Having lively filling station conversations — our most interesting conversations have mostly been with gas station attendees and chats with various Zimbabwean hawkers at filling stations
-Eating everything but Batswana food in Botswana, including Portugese, Chinese, South African, Lebanese…
-Entertaining eachother — I think we must have covered every topic of conversation known to man before we reach Cape Town!